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  • Monday, September 9, 2019 - 5:15pm to 6:30pm

Class of 1978 Pavilion, sixth floor of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library

Please join us for the first meeting of the 2019-2020 Workshop in the History of Material Texts. We will convene Monday, September 9th at 5:15 PM in the Class of 1978 Pavilion on the sixth floor of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library.

We will be welcoming our very own Zachary Lesser for a talk entitled “Ghosts, Holes, Rips and Scrapes: Bibliography in the Longue Durée." Zack writes:

In this presentation, I use a famous case in the history of Shakespearean bibliography—the so-called Pavier Quartos of 1619—to discuss the need for thinking bibliographically across the full life of the books we encounter in rare books libraries. I’ll present previously unseen evidence about these quartos, based on my examination of more than 300 of them, and suggest why this evidence has been invisible for so long. Thinking bibliographically must involve not merely seeing behind the later historical accretions that intervene between us and the "finished book," although that remains important, but also thinking through this long history. The book is a palimpsest: we can use sophisticated tools to read what is written underneath, but if we fail to grapple with how what has been overlaid can rewrite the substrate, we may misread both texts.

Zachary Lesser is Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania and the current faculty director of the Workshop in the History of Material Texts. The author of two monographs on early modern material texts, he is the co-creator of the Shakespeare Census <>, which attempts to locate and describe all copies of Shakespeare editions pre-1700, and of DEEP: Database of Early English Playbooks <>. He is currently completing a book on the Pavier Quartos, from which this talk is drawn.